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🌍 China’s slow roll

Exports and imports shrank for China in August because of economic headwinds

A truck drives through a port trailing a blue "Cosco" shipping container. Behind it is a blue-hulled ship stacked with shipping containers in a variety of colors. The sky above is a clear blue.
A cargo ship loaded with containers is seen at a port in Qingdao, in China's eastern Shandong province on September 7, 2022. 
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Here’s what you need to know

China’s trade growth slowed in August. Both exports and imports shrank amid economic headwinds. Chip imports also declined, falling 12.8% in the past eight months.

The EU is considering a price cap on Russian gas. President Vladimir Putin has threatened to further cut energy supplies and renege on the grain deal should the price cap move ahead.

China issued its second offshore bond sale in Macau. Two tranches of yuan offshore bonds were sold, totaling $430 million (3 billion yuan), following an earlier sale in June.

The British pound fell to its lowest level since 1985. It dropped 1% yesterday against the dollar, in part due to the dollar’s rally, as the risk of a recession looms.

Elon Musk got into even hotter water over Dogecoin. A $258 billion lawsuit accusing the billionaire of running a crypto pyramid scheme has gained seven new plaintiffs.

Samsung’s new chip plant started operations. The sprawling Pyeongtaek complex in Gyeonggi, South Korea is slated to become a key manufacturing center.

What to watch for

The biggest marketing day of the year for Disney arrives today with a multi-tier event that leverages nearly every aspect of the Disney universe to pull existing and new consumers deeper into its broad brand experience.

Called Disney+ Day, the one-day event is primarily designed to sign up new subscribers, and retain current subscribers by offering additional benefits. Disney+ Day will also usher in the return of the D23 Expo, the company’s biennial fan-focused event that was postponed in 2021 due to the pandemic.

Image copyright: Adario Strange

The fake holiday trend that studios have been using to market products is only accelerating. Just look at National Cinema Day, as well as the annual Star Wars Day and Alien Day. Branding a specific day has become one of the most heavily relied upon tools for larger Hollywood studios to highlight their various products and franchises.

Are e-bikes finally cool?

Electric bicycles have been called everything from a “monstrosity” to an “embarrassing” mode of transportation. Truth is though, e-bikes have never been more popular, and are even about to become an urban status symbol.

More of the zippy cruisers appeared on the road during the pandemic, especially in urban areas, as people looked for socially distanced ways to travel. Now, cities like Paris and states like California are stepping up investments in e-bike initiatives. And it definitely helps that e-bikes are looking much trendier than their bulky predecessors.

Here are some numbers to get the wheels spinning:

🚲 790,000: Number of e-bikes the US imported in 2021

🚲 450,000: Number of e-bikes the country imported the year before

🚲 50%+: Percentage of e-bike customers in Europe over the age of 50 in 2015, per electric bike company Cowboy

🚲 25 to 40: Age of most of Cowboy’s customers now, the majority of whom live in big cities

“Brain drain” in an outdated term

When it comes to Africa’s tech sector, the phrase “brain drain” doesn’t really apply anymore, so writes Quartz’s east Africa correspondent Faustine Ngila. In part, that’s because work-from-home is the new norm, so you don’t have to move to Silicon Valley or Shenzhen to nab a tech job.

Big Tech and startups alike are helping to level-up skills in Africa’s expanding pool of talent. One person making that happen is Andrew Mori, CEO of a Cape Town-based tech training startup called Deimos, who wants to help the continent produce 10 million cloud engineers.

✦ Want to read more fresh takes about industries in Africa and around the globe? Help make that possible by signing up today for a membership, and take 40% off, our treat.

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Surprising discoveries

A Dutch city is saying nee, bedankt to ads featuring meat products. Citing environmental and health concerns, Haarlem will implement the ban, thought to be the world’s first, from 2024.

Seaweed-wrapped coffee balls may make capsules obsolete. Swiss retailer Migros unveiled a new machine and design to take on Nespresso.

A skin-swab test aims to sniff out Parkison’s. A nurse who first linked her husband’s change in bodily smell with the development of the disease helped create the potentially transformative exam.

The world’s oldest mammal is older than we thought. Initially misidentified as a reptile, the brasilodon quadrangularis, a small shrew-like creature, walked the earth around 225 million years ago.

You can now buy and sell prompts to create AI-powered images. DALL-E images are cool, but this new marketplace could be its most intriguing creation.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Send any news, comments, coffee balls, and really old mammals to Reader support makes Quartz available to all—become a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Adario Strange, Faustine Ngila, Sofia Lotto Persio, Julia Malleck, and Morgan Haefner.

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